ALL unvaccinated returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) arriving in Cebu will now have to pay for the two RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests that they are required to take when they get to the island province.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Monday Memorandum 7-2022 requiring unvaccinated ROFs arriving in Cebu to pay to the Department of Health-Bureau of Quarantine the amount of P901 per test or P1,802 for the two tests.

The memorandum takes effect on Feb. 1.

Testing for overseas Filipino workers remains free of charge.

Unvaccinated ROFs are swabbed for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease (Covid-19), upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport and required to undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their second RT-PCR test result taken on the fifth day.

Last Jan. 28, Garcia issued Memorandum 6-2022 implementing Inter-Agency Task Force Resolution (IATF) 159, s. 2022 that adjusted the entry, testing and quarantine protocols for arriving international passengers.

Under Memorandum 6-2022 effective Feb. 1, all fully vaccinated persons arriving in Cebu will be allowed entry if they present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin.

Unvaccinated, partially unvaccinated or travelers whose vaccination status could not be independently verified, however, would not only have to present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from their country of origin. They would also have to be swabbed upon arrival and undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their second RT-PCR test result taken on the fifth day.

International passengers traveling to Cebu who cannot present to airline operators at their place of origin proof of full vaccination upon check-in would be classified as unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated, the governor said in her Jan. 28 memorandum.

The RT-PCR tests for ROFs arriving in Cebu used to be provided for free.

Capitol and the Department of Health Central Visayas estimate that unvaccinated passengers now make up only 10 percent of total international arrivals in Cebu.

IATF Resolution 159, s. 2022, issued last Jan. 27, loosened the travel protocols for international arriving Filipoinos and foreign nationals, dropping the Red, Yellow and Green country classification as the guidance to identify entry, testing and quarantine protocols.

It says that from Feb. 1, vaccination status would be the basis for such protocols, with fully vaccinated international arriving passengers no longer required to undergo facility-based quarantine and the RT-PCR test that came with it, if they presented a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to their departure from the country of origin. They would be required only to self-monitor for symptoms for seven days and report to the local government unit of destination upon the manifestation of symptoms.

Under the resolution, unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or individuals whose vaccination status could not be independently verified must present a negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to departure from the country of origin as well as undergo facility-based quarantine until the release of their negative RT-PCR test taken on the fifth day, after which they still must undergo home quarantine until the 14th day.